Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Valley With A Heart, KWBW

Mary and I planned on a 9am departure this morning but mother nature had other ideas. We arrived at Red Eagle Aviation at 8:15 and strolled through the gates with our vehicle, figuring on keeping warm while we wait for Dassult Falcon Jet to top off our tanks. I completed the preflight as the fuel truck rolled in and gave 679er a drink of 100 LL. I pulled the bird out of the tie down to let the sun shine on the wings and speed the melting process. Mary and I loaded up and I made a quick call to Williamsport to activate our flight plan. We were ready to roll at 9:35 clear of all frost.

The Valley with a Heart, Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley was our destination today. Wyoming Valley got that tag back when a flood ravaged the area. On June 23, 1972, tropical storm Agnes swept through the area. In her wake, she left 18 inches of rain, 6 people dead, 25,000 homes nearly destroyed, and $1 billion in damages. The river rose to 40.9 feet, 18.9 feet above flood stage, and 4 feet above the levees that were built after the flood of 1936, which crested at 33 feet. Although 2,278 businesses in Wilkes-Barre were damaged by the 9 feet of water that flooded the square, downtown Wilkes-Barre has been totally revitalized by the new businesses and buildings that have sprung up after the tragedy. I rememebr walking through the area and seeing houses gone, washed away. The devastation was almost unbelieveable....but it was so real. The Valley with a heart vowed to come back and they did. Good hard working folks that care about each other and the place they call home.

Mary and I got kicked to the curb by Philadelphia Approach, "Archer679er call back in twenty minutes,(I'll be half way to WBW in 20, I'm starting to get a complex)I gave the ol' double mic click to acknowledge message received and that we were on our own. Mary and I continued to cruise along at 3500 climbing to 5500 once clear the Class Bravo of PHL. When reaching the Allentown airspace at a point 13 miles east of Reading, PA (KRDG) I called Allentown Approach for Flight Following. Allentown approach gave us a squawk code and we were glad to have the extra eyes with us. Overall great flight, nice and smooth, so smooth my "co-pilot" took a nap. Allentown handed us off to Wilkes-Barre Approach and at 5-8 miles out we had WBW sight so we were turned loose to squawk VFR. I wanted to proceed up the river but approach recommended a heading of 025, which was fine, we entered on a short 45* for downwind 25 (even though I said 22 and then corrected myself) . A nice landing and short taxi to a tie down right in front of the FBO. The gentleman working marshaled me in and set chocks under the nose wheel once shut down. A very nice man, wished us Merry Christmas and Helped Mary off the wing and pointed her to coffee inside. He let us know the rental was there but left so he called to get them back out.....THANKS ED !!

The fun few hours spent with my Aunt & Uncle were well worth the trip. We also made a stop for fresh greens that were arranged to sit on top of my parents headstone. It looked nice with the red ribbon and fresh holly mixed in (My Mom would have liked it, Dad would have tolerated it). It's never easy for me during the Holidays.... I miss them both so much.

We returned the rental and got a ride back to the airport. I completed the pre-flight and then called from the plane for an update to the weather brief. I am going to purchase the smart patch cables so I can plug the phone into my headset and music into Mary's headset. I got the same guy at Williamsport FSS and he remembered me. He said its nice to know as a fairly new pilot that I would make the second call knowing the forecast reports this morning were calling for VFR all day. I laughed and said the call is mighty cheap insurance for an extra look see by qualified folks. He thanked me.

METAR KAVP 201954Z 25009KT 10SM CLR 06/M05 A3030

A call to WBW traffic for taxi, back taxi and departure has us taking off minding noise abatement (following the river)and making a call on unicom to thank the folks at the FBO. A quick flip to WB Approach has flight following activated with a new squawk. A hand off to Allentown followed by Philadelphia and at 15 miles out of Wilmington I cancelled flight following. Wilmington Tower gave me a "report 5 mile final 19" Wooo Hooo, that sure makes it easy, I'm heading 185 and I have the runway in sight. A business jet calls in and is told to enter a left downwind for 19, he then is cleared to land as I report a 5 mile final as instructed. I get "cleared to land 19, no. 2 behind (can't remember what type)jet", I confirm cleared to land 19, no. 2 and have traffic turning final. Second notch of flaps in I watch the jet turn off and continue my decent. Mindfull of wake turbulence I slow myself down and plan my landing. Everything looks good 65 kts short final over the numbers holding solid at 60 kts, sinking flair.....and down on the runway. Very shortfield with a right turn off on t/w kilo that I had to add power to make. I stop beyond the hold short and clean up then taxi to parking, staying on with the tower as requested.

All buttoned up we decide to head out for shrimp and chips (The No.52) at La Tolteca with a few cold ones. It's good to be back home after a fun day flying!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Breakfast at Antino's (KMIV)

What a beautiful day! Mary and I decided to head out for breakfast at KMIV (Millville, NJ) and enjoy a nice clear crisp start to our day. I must say we have the ground work on Six Seven Niner down to a perfect routine, sort of like dancing with the not that dramatic but you get the picture. First things first, of course (who thought that saying up anyway?) Off comes the cockpit cover, cowl plugs and chock which Mary then folds and gets ready for storage in the baggage compartment. I am on my way through the pre-flight having called for fuel upon checking the tanks when we walked up to the gal.

Pre flight complete and the tanks topped off we climb aboard and buckle in. I flow through the checklists and dial in ILG's ATIS along with setting up comm 2 for ground and tower. Taxi instructions in hand we are off for run up and departure. "Clear for takeoff runway 9 with a South East departure Archer 679er" and we're off.

Quick flight today with winds 310 at 30 had us in Millville and at our table at Antino's in 30 minutes. Traffic was light at KMIV with everyone doing a nice job on the radio with announcing positions.

We each ordered the special, a quesadilla made up in a floured tortilla with scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, bacon, ham and cut sausage. WOW! good stuff!!! Excellent meal and service as always. Mary and I walk up the flight line and make a stop at Big Sky Aviation. We figured we would check out T shirts and sweat shirts as added Christmas gifts for us both. They didn't have my size and Mary said she would wait until the next trip. We chatted with the folks there and thanked them again for such a nice time last week into KESN (Easton, MD) and our shuttle ride to experience Christmas in St. Michaels.

Tummy's full we saddle up for home. No desire to travel around today instead we just wanted a change of pace for breakfast. Headwinds heading home as I depart runway 32 and head for KILG aiming just right or North of the Salem Cooling towers. A call to ILG announcing "28679er 15 miles South East with Sierra, 2800 level, for full stop". I get a straight in for runway 32, report mid river. That's about as easy as it gets! Feeling pretty good about breaking the 100 hour mark and on short final for landing, I set 679er down nice and smooth, holding it off I actually get back into the air and then add a touch of power to again settle back down smoothly. Very strange, that's a first but I'm sure not a last. Hmmmmm...can I count that as two?

Again the ground team does a fine job buttoning up and we are heading out to visit the in-laws. Great morning, 1.2 in the book and most important my flying fix is good for a few more days!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

North East Flyers, KRDG

This morning we headed out to Reading, PA (KRDG) to meet up with the North East Breakfast Group. There had to be at least 30 people that made the run today. Mary and I asked my brother Joe and his wife Janice to join us. They both seemed to have a good time and mixed right in with all the pilots.

We had the chance to catch up with Andrew, Adam, Bob and his wife Dru and.....we got to see Mackenzie, Bob & Dru's daughter who took her first flight toady !! There were so many people to meet and so many names to remember. I'm looking forward to all the photos posted on AOPA forum.

All in all a busy weekend but FUN! 1.6 in the book yesterday and 1.8 today. Special thanks to Reading Approach, Tower and Ground for getting us all in and out so smoothly! Thanks Adam for posting the photos of the group and flight line.

Home from St. Michaels

What a FANTASTIC day !

Mary and I decided to fly to KESN (Easton,MD) and meet up with the group from Big Sky Aviation out of Millville and Cape May, NJ. Special thanks to Beth and Doug for getting the group together and having a very nice shuttle bus waiting to take us into St. Michaels.

Mary and I asked Jo Ann to join us for a day of shopping......yeah, like we had to twist her arm to team those two up to shop ;). This was however, Jo's first trip in a 4 seater. Mary and I had 679er ready when she arrived and just had to wait for the fuel truck to top us off. The Ladies are waiting inside the airplane while I see to the fuel caps and sign off on the fuel ticket. Mary hops out and I perform the "Piper roll" to get into the left seat. Jo seems pretty excited to me as we get ready to roll.

Wilmington Tower clears us to taxi out followed by a cleared for take off r/w 27. Six seven niner jumps off the ground and climbs out seemingly as eager as we are to get to Easton. Flight following is brief as is the trip. I announce my position for Easton traffic at 15, 10 and 5 miles out with a full stop for r/w 22 entering on a right base. I have a visual on one aircraft(Cessna) practicing an engine out and they touch down as I am about ready to turn final. with the high wing away I settle in for a very gentle landing with a short taxi to the Terminal. We three pile out and I lock up the bird after final checks for master and keys. Good to go, as the lineman chocks the nose wheel and directs us to the shuttle awaiting our arrival.

It's a short 12 mile ride to St. Michaels as we pull up just in time for the Christmas parade. The Ladies start to hit the shops as we make our way down one side of the street. I manage to watch some of the parade ducking in and out of the shops trying to keep up with Mary and Jo. The parade had a marching band (pictured in the background of Mary and I)horse and carriages, the Maryland rough Riders horse parade team and vintage cars of all ages including one of my favorites the Roadrunner.

As the parade marches by the ladies continue to knock off stores like a little kid on Christmas day taking out the toy soldiers. One by one they fell, who ships, who does not, ornaments only here, antiques there and last but not least my favorite.....a place to eat.

We made a stop at Oyster Cove for lunch and a break from the cool temps. I had the hot roast beef which I must say was very good. Mary had an oyster sandwich and a cup of soup that she seemed to enjoy and Jo had shrimp salad. While waiting for lunch a young couple maybe 30ish walked up next to the front window where we were seated. The father has a small tray of oysters and Mom and Dad both look to be asking the maybe 4 yr old daughter if she would like to try one. I'm already feeling ill just thinking about her slurping one down. Sure enough daughter slurps one down and thinks it's great. I turn green while Mary and Jo (oyster eaters) tap on the window and give the folks a thumbs up. The little girl just smiled. Mom smiled too but Dad puffed out his chest and gave the thumbs up right back......BLEcccccccch...get the kid some fries will ya'!

We continued shopping and eventually made our way to the Acme market to catch up with the group. Everyone seemed to have a great time. The taxi pulled up and hauled the first portion of the group back to KESN and we asked him to loop back for us, he agreed. In the mean time a second cab from the same company pulled up and we hitched back with him taking on two folks from Millville Smokey and his lovely wife. It was a in the front seat as the driver was teased by Smokey and his wife as she continued to stir the pot saying he the driver needed a hug. The drivers looks were priceless ! Good guy and got us back safe.

We said our goodbyes and saddled up for home. An abbreviated preflight complete we called clear prop and six even niner came to life. We taxied out, completed the run up and departed r/w 22. The ladies took some nice shots as I announced and departed the area on the 22 right downwind. It was a nice ride home picking out landmarks and recapping the day. I think Jo had a blast.

I called Wilmington tower and advised having current info along with direction altitude and intentions for a full stop. The tower advises enter left downwind for 27 and call at 3 miles or so (I can't remember). Bridges clearly in view and Mary had picked out our other familiar landmark the cooling towers at Salem. We also got a good look at Fort Delaware pictured on the tiny Island in the Delaware River.

Cleared for landing on r/w 27 I settle in with a nice landing and another quick taxi to our tie down at Red Eagle Aviation. We button up and head home after a fun day. Mary and I can't wait to go back in nice weather in the spring or summer. Flying has really opened up a new world to us both. We have met so many nice people and the opportunity to visit places without all the hassles of driving so many hours has been a blessing. Life is Good....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The "And More" After KESN

Saturday December 9th as noted in my previous post will be a quick fun trip to KESN in Easton, MD followed with grounmd transportation into St. Michaels. The second half of the double header will be Sunday the 10th as we once again saddle up for a quick hop to KRDG in Reading, PA. This trip we will have the company of my brother and sister-in-law. We are going to meet the POA (Pilots of America) December Breakfast group. Looking at the time reservation it will be more like brunch, but who's watching the clock.

After we eat I will check with the rest of our party if they would like to visit the Mid Atlantic Air Museum on the field. I'm thinking the ladies would rather shop but that will be for another day. More to follow whne we get back from the busy weekend.